From the 9th - 11th of March, Parramatta’s premier cultural event, Parramasala, will be hitting Sydney’s west for its 8th year of celebration, colour and culture. A free event running throughout Multicultural March, the festival offers a circus of food, dance, culture and music to the wider Sydney community, fostering a positive, diverse and friendly atmosphere between and within the multicultural melting pot that is Sydney.
Initially founded as a festival celebrating south-east Asian culture, Parramasala has - with the assistance of new creative director Paul Osborne and partnership with Multicultural NSW – expanded in 2018 into a holistic and inclusive festival highlighting cultural rituals, dance and performance from cultures around the globe.
Backyard Opera had a chat to Paul ahead of the festival’s marvellous return.
Paul Osborne describes his background in anthropology as being a driving factor in his transformation of Parramasala’s ethos to one of inclusive celebration; with this change ensuring that the festival allows for an accurate and equal representation of all the cultures blending together on Sydney’s streets. “It’s about the real Sydney,” Paul stated, “‘and the beauty of it is we can bring it all together in the name of performance, food, and art, all in the one place.”
Trying to plan a program around a melting pot, or as Osborne describes, a ‘masala’ of cultures that are uniquely vibrant was one of the challenges facing the 2018 director. The prevailing mix of premier world talent is the result of careful consideration by Osborne and a team of consultants and representatives from a variety of different cultures and backgrounds.
“This year I engaged a lot of people to work with me”, Paul told BYO. “I don’t want to miss anything; there are some real jewels in these communities that only they know about. In future years, we’ll grow more and more, and discover more incredible artists out there.”
This team of organisers is a positive step towards the reconciliation and togetherness Parramasala seeks to promote.
“I work with people on a creative level; we work as a creative community and we can by-pass all the politics. I deal with people as an artist and it’s a lovely thing because that language is much more universal”.
Each night there will be a whole host of vibrant acts that will keep energy high throughout the weekend. From the beginning of the festival, a fabulous collision of culture is engrained into the line up. The opening Welcome Parade will make its way from Parramatta town hall to Prince Alfred square on the 9th of March, followed by a moving welcome to country by the Elders of Burramatta.
As the weekend progresses, the festivities only increase. Other incredible performances include the Dreamgirls of Bollywood show on the opening night, who will showcase and celebrate iconic Bollywood tracks and dance styles throughout its development. Of notable inclusion to the Parramasala 2018 line up is also Grammy award-winning Saharan Desert rock group Tinariwen, who will be playing on the 10th of March, alongside Grammy nominees and Australian fusion band Hiatus Kaiyote.
One of Osborne’s most anticipated events is the Masala Nights World Dance Congress, that incorporates the dance styles of the tango, samba, salsa, flamenco and Bollywood; taking audiences on a dance tour of the world. This show is a world premiere of all different dance styles in the one performance, and is a collection of dancers sought out by the Parramasala organisers to allow for a showcase of new talent.
The festival is all inclusive and aims to attract everyone from all walks of life. As Osborne mentions: “I would never normally say this as an event manager, but I really think this festival is about and for everyone; it’s a coming together of culture and people”, and a coming together it certainly will be. With 35,000 people anticipated to attend over the weekend, Parramasala’s popularity is sure to increase with the festivals inclusive new direction.
The 3-day festival will bring more than 30 nationalities together in a powerful and exciting festival of culture, belonging and community. For more information about the full line up of events, head to the Parramasala website.